WAV (WAVeform audio format), is a Microsoft and IBM audio file format standard for storing audio on personal computers. It is the main format used on Windows systems for raw, uncompressed audio.
It is a variant of the RIFF bitstream format method for storing data in "chunks".
Both WAVs and AIFFs are compatible with Windows and Macintosh operating systems. The format takes into account some byte order differences.
The RIFF format acts as a "wrapper" for various audio compression codecs.
Though a WAV file can hold compressed audio, the most common WAV format contains uncompressed audio in the PCM format. PCM audio is the standard audio file format for a CD at 44,100 samples per second, 16 bits per sample. (This equates to approximately 10 MB per minute of recording. For comparison an mp3 file at 192 kb/s will use approximately 1.4 MB per minute of recording.)
Since PCM uses an uncompressed, lossless storage method, which keeps all the samples of an audio track, professional users or audio experts may use the WAV format for maximum audio quality.
WAV audio can also be edited and manipulated with relative ease using software because no compression or decompression needs to be done on the fly.
Uncompressed WAV files are quite large in size, so, as file sharing over the Internet has become popular, the WAV format has declined in popularity. However, it is still a commonly used, relatively "pure" file type, suitable for retaining "first generation" archived files of high quality, or use on a system where high fidelity sound is required and disk space is not restricted.